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  • Import (Batch Load) Bibs/Holdings/Items - Training Materials and Script




  • Please bring a set of records to class to practice loading into Alma.  Records must meet the criteria outlined in the load profile, in either UTF8 MARC binary or CSV/Excel file types.

Pre-class Reading and Reference Documents

Review before class:


Welcome to the Batch Load Bibs/Holdings/Items. My name is.....

This class covers how to create bibliographic records and stub holdings and items for records supplied by vendors or created by library staff.

A few notes:

  • We are continuing to learn new things about Alma as staff work with real data in the system, and processes are still being refined. Periodic trainings and online materials will continue to be available to support you as you learn.

  • We are training on the tool of Alma, and while there is usually more than one way to do anything in Alma, we will show you one verified or preferred way to do tasks. Once you've learned the best practice, we encourage staff to discuss local procedures and workflows in your units.

  • We still encourage everyone to come together in Learning Circles - either cross-functional within units or on the same functions across units - to discuss how the implementation is going and how the new features and workflows in Alma might change work at Harvard.

  • Please continue to use the LTS Alma Support form to ask questions and report issues with Alma data, workflows, or roles & permissions. Asking these questions, and working groups providing answers, is an important part of everyone learning more about Alma. You can find the link in the Notifications widget in Alma, along with the link to Alma documentation on the LTS wiki.

  • The script and all materials for this class are available to review on the wiki, and will continue to be updated with any changes in procedures.

Some quick logistics information: 

  • The nearest bathrooms & water supply are:
    Please ask questions when they come up; I will also pause between sections for questions and to make sure things are clear.
    • 90 Mt Auburn: Two restrooms are on the opposite side of the building on the basement level, water is in the kitchenette and in a fountain by the restrooms
    • 625 Mass Ave: Restrooms are at the opposite end of the building on the 3rd floor, by the water fountain

Let's start by introducing ourselves. (Go around the room and ask everyone to share their name, library/unit, and how this class relates to their work.)

Sandbox: Now, if you haven't already, please log in to the new Alma sandbox.

  • Even though we are now working in the Alma Production site, the Sandbox will be available for testing and review.  
  • Sandbox changes: For the duration of 2019, we have two Sandboxes:
    • The original Sandbox has a red Harvard shield in the upper left corner, and its data was last refreshed at the end of August 2018. This sandbox will not be available after December 2019.
    • The new Premier Sandbox has a green Harvard shield in the upper left corner, and its data was last refreshed in February 2019. This sandbox will be our permanent sandbox.

Today we will cover the following topics:

About Permissions

Alma login permissions are not granular.  The new authorizations added to your login allow for other functionality, but we trust you will only perform actions for which you have received training.  

Although Alma has a great UI to allow for batch work rather than the command line days of prior systems, it is deceptively reassuring . . . . . .  we have heard anecdotes from other Alma customers where librarians experienced in batch load and update processes have used an incorrect input file or norm rule and caused great harm to their catalog, including deleting the entire database. 

Import / Record Load Best Practices

The basic steps for importing/loading records into Alma is:

  1. Get or create the file of records to import.
  2. Validate the file as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Use the generic load profiles (more below) or work with LTS for a vendor-specific or project-specific profile.
  4. Run the load.
  5. Check the results.

In addition, these guidelines should be followed for every type of record load:

  • Harvard should not accept records from vendors or partners that have redistribution restrictions. See the Harvard Policy On Records.
  • The encoding and validity of records should be confirmed prior to load.  See the requirements for Import Profiles.
    • For MARC files, use MARCedit to validate and edit records before loading.
    • For Excel/CSV files, confirm correct column headers are used and that data is as clean as possible. If necessary, convert Excel to MARC and validate using MARCedit.
  • Files should be named in a consistent manner for each load.  We suggest one of the following conventions:
    • [librarycode]-[vendorcode]-[invoice#].mrc 
    • [librarycode]-[vendorcode]-[YYYMMDD].mrc
    • It is okay to append suffixes as well for multiple files received in a day, e.g. wid-weinberg-20180545b.mrc
  • No more than 500 records should be loaded in a single batch. 
    • If your vendor file is larger than this, you can use the MARCedit Split tool to break it into smaller files. 
  • After a set is loaded, the records should be checked to ensure:
    • That bib validates in Alma (Tools > Validate)
    • That holding validates in Alma
    • That item was created and can be re-saved without errors

Pre-Load Verification of Data

MarcEdit Verification of Records

If you are working with a MARC file, use MARCedit to validate the data you're working with. If needed, download MARCedit from and choose the 64-bit Windows/Non-Administrator version.

  1. Open MarcEdit

  2. Click the MARC Tools icon

  3. With MarcBreaker highlighted under Functions:

    1. Use the file folder icon on the end of the Input File line to find your MARC file. 

    2. Use the file folder icon on the end of the Save As line to choose a location for the file you will examine. The Output filename will end in .mrk

    3. Make sure your Default Character Encoding at the lower left of the screen reads UTF8.
    4. Click the box for Translate to UTF8.

    5. Click Execute.

  4. A Results box at the bottom of the screen confirms how many records were extracted and elapsed time.
  5. Click Edit Records.

  6. You will see a text editor with your records in it. Be aware that the MARCeditor control keys are non-standard.

  7. Review records. If the file does not meet the requirements for load, update the file or ask the vendor to issue a new file.  

  8. You can add, modify, or delete fields using the Tools menu.

  9. When all updates are complete, compile the file back to MARC.

    1. Make sure that the encoding drop-down in the menu bar is set to UTF8
    2. From the MARCedit menu choose File > Compile File to MARC or use the Compile Files icon. 
    3. Choose a filename and a location to save it to.
    4. Click Save.
    5. This step of re-compiling the file will help ensure the encoding is correct. 
Note, if you have associated .mrc files with MARCedit, you can double click the file to open it in the editor view rather than following steps 1 - 5 above.

Creating an Excel/CSV Record File

If your vendor can only send an Excel or CSV (comma-separated value) file, or if you are creating records by hand in an Excel file, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Staff generic import profiles page and go to the Staff Generic Profile 2: bibs, hols, items – Excel file section
  2. Download the Harvard example Excel file with column headers.
    • Make sure to preserve the column headers exactly as is.
  3. Add in your record details, one record per row.
  4. Save the file as either an Excel or CSV file.

While you can convert the Excel file to a MARC file using MARCedit, this isn't necessary unless you want to use MARCedit to validate your records. Otherwise, just use the Excel file as is.

Alma Record Load

  1. Log Into Alma Sandbox

  2. Go to Resources > Import

  3. Search for generic to locate Staff Generic Profile 1 (for MARC records) or Staff Generic Profile 2 (for Excel/CSV files).
  4. Choose Run from the row action item menu.
  5. Click on Select File and find the file you saved, either MARC or Excel/CSV.
  6. Fill in the Label and Notes fields. These will show up after the load in the Monitor & View Imports >> Job History >> View File Details page. 
    • Best Practice: Alma already captures a history of the file name and user who loaded the file, so use the Label and Description to help you keep track of what you loaded. For example, you could include invoice number, date of vendor shipment, box number, etc.  Click on View file details from the row action item menu to see the label/notes details.

  7. Click Add. Confirm that the correct import profile and file are listed in the import screen.
    1. In some cases Alma will not be able to use the file and it will give this error: Failed during parsing record
    2. If this occurs, return to MARCedit and run the file through the MARC validator tool. You can Remove Invalid Records for troubleshooting purposes to identify the cause of the problem. 
    3. MARCedit may not catch all errors that prevent a file being parsed by Alma, such as the presence of duplicate LDR fields.
  8. Click Submit.

Check the Results of the Import

After you import the records, it's critical to review the new records and confirm that all fields imported correctly and that any related records (holdings and items on an imported bib, for instance) were created properly. You can review these results immediately after you submit the job for a small import, or later on for a larger one.

Immediately after you click Submit, you will be brought to the Monitor and View Imports page.

  • Click Refresh to see progress. If you have a large job or your job is queued after another import, you may want to copy the Job ID and return to this screen later.
  • Alma will send you a confirmation email with a load report once the job has completed. View an example confirmation email from Alma.

Later on, go to Resources > Monitor and View Imports to get to that page. Filter by profile name and other attributes, or search for your job using the internal search box at the top of the list.

  1. If there were errors, the Status column will say Completed with Errors in red text. The confirmation email from Alma will also indicate whether there were errors. 
  2. From the row action item list for the import job click on:
    • Report to view a report of what was loaded or any errors.
    • Events to view any MMSIDs for records in Alma that matched records you were trying to load.
    • Imported Records to review records. This will bring you to a search result with the loaded records.
      • If there are no records, go back and review the Report for the load. Review a sample of loaded records per best practices. 
      • If any records failed, you can can to the Records Not Imported section and click on the Action Menu to download the record and review it for errors. The record can be corrected in MARCedit, recompiled, then loaded again.
    • View File Details to see the file names, operator who ran the job, and the Label and Notes fields for the job.
    • Imported PO Lines to view any related PO Lines imported as part of the job.


This time will be used to practice record loads into the sandbox and group discussion.  Please use the instructions reviewed in the demonstration to verify the file you brought for training in MarcEdit and then load the file in Alma Sandbox.


Please practice loading a few more sets of records into the Alma Sandbox.  After you feel comfortable with the process, please load a set and send LTS information about the record set loaded.  We will review and update your login with permissions to load records in Alma Production.

If you have any questions, use the LTS Alma Support form in the Notifications wiki to submit them.

Thank you for attending today's class!

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